A Tour of P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain
A dead tree was my favorite part of Moss Mountain.
I take that back...this picture was my favorite find at Moss Mountain:
If you must know, I am a bit of a sneak and when given the chance to visit someone's home, I hone in immediately on the books and the photos. They tell a great story, don't you think? When I saw this photo, I totally felt vindicated for wanting to let chickens run loose in my kitchen.
(Side note: Who was the clean up crew from this particular shoot???)
Back to those dead trees though:
Throughout the gardens, there are espalier (espalied?) fruit trees and at some point a freeze took out many of the pears. P. Allen noted that he has a hard time throwing things away and thus the dead forms of those pear trees are sprinkled throughout the indoor spaces of the property. This particular space pictured above is the seed drying shed. I loved this space -- full of light and white and life-giving seed amidst the detritus of death -- poetic really.
|While I was supposed to be listening to a presentation, I couldn't help but be distracted by 'Duncan'. He kept nuzzling my feet :)|
Short Story: See those chickens to the left and right of the frame? Notice how their "necklace" is black against a white background. If you look closely at the chicken in the middle, her necklace is lighter in color - almost a lavender. I asked Allen about this chicken and he said that it is specifically the 'Coronation Sussex', named in honor of the coronation of King George. As far as I could research, this particular chicken was "gone" after World War 2, but through breeding the strain has been "created" again. In other words, the recessive gene that causes the lighter coloring was still present, but no actual chickens were around in the states with that coloring. Due to scarcity, most prices I have seen online for a coronation sussex is in the hundreds of dollars. P. Allen Smith is an advocate for the maintenance of these heritage breed chickens and is determined to increase their numbers. To learn more, you can visit Heritage Poultry HERE.
Enough of my favorites though -- you came for the tour, right?
Let's start with the art studio:
This little house is located behind the main house and set adjacent to a twin that houses the "summer kitchen". If I were to choose two outbuildings I would dream of having -- I think summer kitchen and art studio top the list. Don't you?? Moss Mountain has much more than 2 outbuildings though. The garden is peppered with "sheds" (I use that word gently here as the sheds at Moss Mountain are well designed focal points -- not the ugly metal things most of us have in the backyard) and meeting spaces perfect for events, weddings and friendly gatherings.
Structures throughout the garden give it shape and create Allen's classic "rooms".
Gravel paths offer structure and guidance as you stroll through.
Sight lines from every angle are considered and everywhere you turn is a new vista.
If I cannot have an art studio or a summer kitchen, I at the very least would like a bantam temple.
This adorable coop is for the small white silkies and is snuggled into the garden itself instead of out with the other (louder) chickens.
On the backside of the house, nestled into the ground amidst those pretty gardens is this:
Most people take pictures of the sleeping porch with its views of the river from Moss Mountain, dreaming of lazy days of rest and relaxation. While I found the sleeping porch charming, I would absolutely eschew it for this sunken porch. Cool and shaded, hunkered away from the world and with garden vistas as nice as any river -- THIS would be my home base.
Moss Mountain Interior
|Front Porch and P. Allen Smith|
|Guest Room and Master|
|Kid's Room Attic Window and Porch Vista|
|I was tempted to slide a copy of Crafting With Nature onto one of those piles, but I resisted.|
...and because I teased that sleeping porch earlier...
Aside from the sleeping porch, I would say the second most memorable and photographed location at Moss Mountain is the magnificent Rose Garden. It is truly a hidden garden, tucked away down by the river and completely out of sight from the home and gardens. It is larger than I expected and rivals even public gardens, such as the Lincoln Sunken Gardens. If you want to create magic in a garden, you should go get schooled by this masterpiece:
The event was sponsored by gardening brands that P. Allen personally vetted, now uses and supports. There will be more to come from each of them as I get back to my Pennsylvania garden and dig in. I am excited to work with these brands focused on sustainable gardening practices and gardens that are accessible to all.